Fuck Your Racial Policing

The paths towards assimilation and acceptance from white peers differed among Armenians and Japanese Americans due to the relative “Asian-ness” of each group and the usefulness of their identities to the wider grower community. Both Armenian and Japanese immigrants attempted to challenge “the racial state,” as Omi and Winant describes it, by proclaiming their whiteness in court; however, only Armenians succeeded.50 Armenians retained their whiteness not by claiming that Armenia falls within the boundaries of Europe, but rather that their “homeland” northeast of Baghdad and north of Tehran became so after their migration from the West. The establishment of the “common knowledge” litmus test for Asians with the Thind decision placed South Asians and Japanese Americans on the outside of whiteness. Such ideologies influenced their access to U.S. citizenship, which remained off-limits until the passage of the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 allowed for their naturalization…

Finally, the example of Kubo’s life illustrates how, at least for Japanese Americans, the path of acceptance by society now came by way of embracing non- whiteness and identifying with a history of racialized oppression rather than disowning it.”

The Importance of Being Asian: Growers, the United Farm Workers and the Rise of Colorblindness

Matthew Garcia, Associate Professor, Brown University; Agrarian Studies Fellow, Yale University (2009-2010)

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